‘The Waltons’: Why One Star Said Show’s Production Was ‘Embarrassed’ of Child Actors

by Clayton Edwards

The Waltons was the biggest show on television for most of its run. The series offered viewers in the 70s a chance to escape their modern woes. They would get away to pre-WWII Appalachia once a week to check in with TV’s favorite family. Today, audiences still love the series. For some, it remains an escape to simpler times. To others, it’s a trip down memory lane. Either way, the show is a wonderful window into the past.

Kami Cotler played the youngest daughter, Elizabeth, on The Waltons. She started her time with the family in 1971 with The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. Then, when the network picked up the series, she reprised her role. Cotler was in all but nine of the show’s 221 episodes as well as several specials and made-for-TV movies.

Not long ago, she sat down with Cinephiled’s Danny Miller to talk about her time on Walton’s Mountain. At one point, she opened up about what made her think that Lorimar, the show’s production company, was “embarrassed of,” the children on The Waltons.

Danny Miller wanted to know, “Do you think Lorimar, as a production company, was just particularly good with kids?” Kami Cotler’s answer seems to have taken him by surprise.

“No, I don’t think so, to be honest,” she told him. That wasn’t all, though. She went on to say, “In fact, I think that they were a little embarrassed of us.”

The Kids on The Waltons Got the Short End of the Stick

Miller responded to Cotler’s response. “Really? Isn’t The Waltons the show that made Lorimar?”

Cotler said that their series did put the production company on the map. However, they certainly didn’t get the star treatment from the folks at Lorimar. For instance, the child actors on The Waltons had cramped quarters backstage. “They would cram three of us girls in the tiniest dressing room with our three guardians,” Cotler recalled.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they didn’t have anywhere to sit on set. Apparently, they had to stand between scenes.

“We never had chairs on the set because Lorimar wouldn’t provide them. Finally, Michael [Learned] couldn’t take it anymore and bought us all chairs!” Learned was the matriarch of the Walton clan. So, it is only fitting that she stepped up and helped out her younger Waltons castmates.

Cotler said that their poor treatment was magnified by how well kids on other sets were treated. “We used to go over to the Apple’s Way set and marvel at the kids’ dressing rooms and  at the fact that the whole cast had parking spaces on the lot.”

Apple’s Way only ran for two seasons between 1974 and 1975. Like The Waltons, Earl Hamner Jr. created the show and Lorimar produced it. It seems strange that the casts on the shows would have such vastly different experiences. Maybe Kami Cotler was right.